Join the Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network to celebrate refugee week with a Friendship Picnic at Browns Falls.
Join the Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network to celebrate refugee week with a Friendship Picnic at Browns Falls.

New visa could bring migrants to Warwick

BEFORE the overthrow of government, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was already working on visas to send migrants to stay in the bush longer.

Now, it is expected the Morrison government will forge ahead with the new skilled and family visas, which will force migrants to spend years in regional areas before they can move to a city like Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

The previous government had long flagged the new visa after data from the Home Affairs department reported one in 10 who come under existent rural visas leave for the city within 18 months.

A proposal for visas to lock migrants into the regions for five years was due to go to cabinet before the Liberal leadership spill, but now the new government is yet to consider the proposal.

Advocate for the Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network (SDRMN) Fiori Cruz said it was ideal for the visa to be on hold.

"It would be great to bring more people into country towns, but we can't force them to stay here,” Ms Cruz said.

SDRMN are currently building partnerships with organisations in Toowoomba and Brisbane to put the Southern Downs on their radars.

"The community is in the process of getting people to Warwick,” Ms Cruz said.

"Some migrants have never lived in a city before, so they would feel more comfortable in a regional or country town.”

However the SDRMN have great concerns for employment opportunities.

"There aren't as many jobs here compared to these larger areas,” Ms Cruz said.

"Warwick is already trying its best to fill the jobs we currently have available, so it's about bringing in the right people for the right jobs.

"It's good to find regional opportunities however if the position isn't there, that becomes problematic.”

Despite the Turnbull government revealing a drop in skilled visas, Ms Cruz said most people who come over are of working age.

"For the Filipino community most are coming from farming backgrounds where there is work for them here in Warwick,” she said.

Executive officer for the social justice commission, for the Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba Mark Copland said there was movement to close the gap of employment.

"We are currently working on programs to link the migrants who are able to work to employment opportunities,” he said.

In his opinion, Mr Copland said restricting a migrant's choice of living would be detrimental.

"If this becomes an imposed policy and something not driven by local communities it would be a failure,” he said.

Mr Copland said community sectors such as education, health, policy and local governments all played an important role in attracting migrants.

"The secondary sources are crucial when it comes to migrant needs,” he said.

"Migrants need to see communities are welcoming their presence and not being forced to accommodate them.”

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